Christmas gifts for travellers fireplace

10 Christmas gifts for travellers

This year, Kia and I are spending Christmas at home before starting a three-month trip through Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan. We’re ridiculously excited, which of course is the mark of a true traveller: you’re still thrilled by the prospect of seeing a new country even if you’ve seen 50 or 60 or 100.

After Christmases spent in Tahiti and India over the past few years, we’re looking forward to being at home. To get into the spirit, we’ve put together this list of 10 Christmas gifts for travellers. If you have a travel lover in your life, buy them something useful for their next sojourn abroad. Continue reading

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Power play: how to charge your gadgets in the wild

Knowing how to charge your gadgets in the wild could be a matter of survival or (more likely) avoiding boredom during a rainy day spent huddled under canvas.

Let’s face it: even if you’re a hardcore survivalist, a compass and map simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether it’s tracking your route with a hiking app, triangulating your position using GPS or letting your loved ones know you’re safe, adventurers these days rarely leave home without at least one electronic device. Continue reading

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Hiking first aid kit: an essential checklist

Peter and I have a running joke that I’ve fallen off my bike in the most beautiful places in the world, from Bora Bora to the Galápagos Islands. The worst fall happened when cycling through the quiet country lanes of our tiny French village.

I hit the ground first with a knee, then a hip, then my head. Stupidly, I put my dirtied fingers into my mouth to check if I had lost a tooth. I hadn’t but there was plenty of blood. Later, I paid the price for this mistake. I spent the afternoon not only shaken by the accident but throwing up whatever nasty substance I had drawn into my mouth.

Thankfully, I’ve managed to avoid similar incidents while hiking but it’s likely a matter of time given that we at Atlas & Boots enjoy things like climbing Nevis Peak unguided and trekking active volcanoes. As such, I’ve put aside my complacency and put together a hiking first aid kit, perfect for those who wander outdoors. Here’s what’s in it. Continue reading

best-selling camping and hiking gear

Best-selling camping and hiking gear of 2016

In general I don’t tend to spend much money on clothing and non-photography related gadgets. I am comfortable enough loafing around in jeans and a t-shirt. Added to that, I hate shopping with a vengeance. If I really focus I can avoid shopping malls for most of the year, succumbing only during the lead up to Christmas.

That said, outdoor stores are a different kettle of fish. I can while away hours wandering the aisles, leafing through maps and checking out the latest lightweight gadgets. Continue reading

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Wild camping tips: a beginner’s guide

Recently, as I prepared for a hiking and wild camping trip to Dartmoor, I wrote a post on the layering system and how to prepare for the capricious weather that comes with springtime in the UK. How pleased was I that I prepared well? Very.

I found myself on an ominous moorland landscape just as Storm Katie arrived in Britain bringing chaos to large parts of the country. Within two hours of hiking I found myself battling high wind, torrential downpours and hailstorms. As lightning flashed overhead and the third hailstorm hit me head on, I decided I wasn’t going to make much progress that day and hurriedly pitched my tent in the most sheltered spot I could find. Continue reading

The ultimate guide to packing light

I started our big trip across the South Pacific and South America with a 45-litre backpack weighing 13kg. Over the course of the trip, I managed to drop a fair bit of weight and get my bag down to 10kg. Evidently, I had failed in packing light from the start.

In some ways, overpacking is a rite of passage: you have to do it to learn how not to do it. Of course there is an easier way. By gleaning advice from other travellers and being strict with yourself, packing light will become far easier. Here’s where to start. Continue reading

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The layering system: how to layer clothing for the outdoors

Springtime is finally upon us and with it come the capricious weather conditions that define the season. Mark Twain once said, “In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”

Here in the UK, spring weather so often described as “mixed” or “unpredictable” essentially includes anything from perfect hillwalking conditions with blue skies, sunshine and a cooling breeze to treacherous conditions laden with mud, stormy skies and gale-force winds.  Continue reading

5 multi-purpose products to help you pack lightly

I have a rule about restaurants: if one offers two markedly different types of cuisine, I won’t eat there. Think Thai restaurants that make pizza, or British gastropubs that offer Indian curry. More often than not, instead of doing one cuisine well, these multi-purpose restaurants will do two cuisines badly and are simply best avoided.

For a long time, I applied the same philosophy to multi-purpose products. But then I started packing for our trip.

Continue reading

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25 best books about survival

Books about survival demonstrate what humans are capable of when pushed to their limits. Whether it’s the treacherous slopes of a mountain in hurricane force winds, being cast adrift in the middle of the ocean or a hellish trek through arid desert, the challenges described within illustrate the true strength of the human spirit.

To help you choose your next read, we’ve put together our favourite books about survival, filled with true life tales that will compel readers for years to come. Continue reading

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13 best hiking apps

Hiking apps have never really featured in my outdoor adventures. You see, I’m a bit old school, so whenever I plan an adventure in the wild, it always begins with me laying out my OS maps across the lounge floor and marking out possible trailheads, routes and campsites. However, now that I have access to reliable wifi and a decent smartphone again I have started to download a host of useful hiking apps.

Below, I take a look at some of the best hiking apps available for outdoor trip planning, navigation, first aid and survival. Continue reading

best mountaineering movies ever made

25 best mountaineering movies ever made

Recently, I watched one of the best mountaineering movies I’ve ever seen.

Historically, mountaineering movies have struggled to bridge the gap between climbing documentary and Hollywood blockbuster. However, Everest – released in 2015 and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin – has managed to please both thrill-seeking moviegoers and mountaineers alike (unless you’re Jon Krakauer of course). Continue reading

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25 best-selling expat books of 2015

Over the last 18 months, Kia and I have been away from home either on the road or holed up in our tiny French village. As with many people, our reading habits changed to reflect our lifestyle which means we’ve worked our way through a rather eclectic mix of guidebooks, adventure travel books and ‘expat books’, tales of leaving behind ordinary lives in pursuit of something new. 

With Christmas fast approaching, we decided to take a look at some of the best-selling expat books of 2015 – perfect gifts for those living away from home or contemplating the leap for 2016.

Continue reading

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Photo backup: how to keep your memories safe

It was in the Cotopaxi region of Ecuador that we met Michael, a fellow backpacker who had spent the previous weeks on a surfing trip of a lifetime. Earlier in the day, Michael’s GoPro had dislodged from its extender during a jump into a waterfall and sunk to the depths below.

“All my photographs are on that camera,” he told us, face still pale from the hour he spent searching the ice-cold water.
“You have backups, right?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I kept meaning to but… I just never got round to it.” Sadly, his memories were lost forever. Continue reading

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25 best-selling adventure travel books of 2015

My bookshelves and Kindle are filled with tales of against-the-odds Antarctic survival, deathly mountaineering endeavours and Hemingway-esque journeys that change lives and shift perceptions. I know what I like and adventure travel books unfailingly engross me from cover to cover. 

With Christmas fast approaching, we take a look at Amazon’s best-selling adventure travel books of 2015 – perfect gifts for would-be adventurers like me. Continue reading

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A complete travel photography gear guide

I’ve been involved in film or photography throughout my career: initially as a camera operator, video editor and AV-engineer, later as a teacher in digital media, and now as a travel blogger. I’ve sold stock photography for several years on Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images, and my photography – whether it’s my best landscape compositions or more informal, candid snaps – play a prominent role throughout our travel blog and social channels, particularly Instagram. Continue reading

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Ultimate camping checklist

After years of packing and re-packing in preparation for various expeditions, I’ve finally got it nailed – to the point where I have a spreadsheet with all my gear listed alongside its weight (full and empty) so I can predict how heavy my pack will be. Most campers are likely far less pedantic, but there’s no denying we all feel pride in getting our kit just right.

To help campers get their gear in order, I’ve put together the ultimate camping checklist – intentionally comprehensive so that everything you need is listed, whether it’s for a weekend backpacking trip through the wilderness or a longer family break. Continue reading

essential gadgets for safe travel

8 essential gadgets for safe travel

Having five sisters like I do is wonderful. On your travels, you get lots of messages checking on your whereabouts and wellbeing. And then you get some more messages. And then you get some more. Soon, this turns into real-time updates of hazardous activity within a 6,000-mile radius. “You’re camping on a beach in Fiji? Did you hear about the couple who got hurt on a beach in Thailand?” “Didn’t you just leave Vanuatu? There’s an earthquake there now.” “You’re in Chile? What about that huge volcano?”

Of course, it’s natural to worry about loved ones when they’re away. Occasionally, that worry is warranted.  To help set minds at ease, we’ve gathered eight essentials for safe travel, from emergency SOS systems to staying healthy while on the road. Continue reading

Beginners' French: language hacks for word endings

Beginners’ French: language hacks for word endings

Once our journey around the world officially ends, we’ll be heading to France for a few months before finally returning to London. With only a short-course French qualification to my name (from my school days nearly 17 years ago), I need to improve my French quick smart. So far, I have been tackling the task digitally with a combination of Duolingo and the Michel Thomas Method. I’ve been using Duolingo for Spanish throughout South America with mixed success, but the Michel Thomas Method is a promising new approach for me. Continue reading